New Blog & Social Network Footprint

In the past our blog (sonixcast.com/blog) functioned as the central communication portal, however with the recent advent of integrated group collaboration tools, we’ve decided to shut down the SoniXCast community and move everything to Facebook and Google. The blog will now function (as it should) just as the central announcements, information and documentation portal for everything SoniXCast.

We are introducing two new focus groups where Producers, Customers and Consumers can collaborate:

Producers Forum

Membership only group where you can connect with other SoniXCast producers, exchange info and experiences, take part in discussions and help direct the future of Webcasting.

  • On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SXProducers/
  • On Google: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/sxproducers

Premiere Support

Our membership only premier support groups are manned 24/7 by our support team. Important: Whenever posting a new technical issue please supply the hostname and main port of your service in order to expedite your request.

  • On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SXSupport/
  • On Google: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/sxsupport

 

New Pricing

We are happy to announce new CentovaCast Pricing!

With the recent release of the SoniXCast/CentovaCast hybrid architecture, we were able to sink costs immensely and are passing the savings on to you! New sign-ups can save up to 20% over competitors and existing customers could save up to 30%!

What Happened?

As stated in our initial release announcement for CentovaCast, our dedicated development team has been customizing CentovaCast to work with the SoniXCast/AnyCastIP™ architecture and were able to complete the new CentovaCast Cluster ahead of schedule.

What are the benefits?

The new CentovaCast Cluster not only takes advantage of our failover virtual machine architecture guaranteeing uptimes of better than 99.9%, but ip-failover feature ensures that the ip-address follows the virtual machine as it is spun up on different hardware and our new 8.6 petabyte direct access storage (DAS) ensures rock-solid data protection, security and near limitless storage for music and videos.

Since the architecture applied to the CentovaCast Cluster is the same we provide to our Professional customers, Hobbyists and Webcasters now benefit from the cutting edge technology and (more importantly) the huge cost savings.

What about Pricing?

We offer two, globally licensed, programs designed (and appropriately named) to fit the needs of Hobbyists and Webcasters…

Hobbyist Program

Small businesses that wish to provide custom content, station operators who are just starting out or Musicians who wish to showcase their music, do not need the AutoDJ or concurrent listener features offered with other programs. Available with the ShoutCast or Icecast server option, the Hobbyist programs is optimized for price, stability and ease of use. Pricing starts at: $3.95/month (icecast/ices, 96Kbps), $4.95/month (shoutcast/shoutcast, 96Kbps) for maximum 100 listeners and 2 mount points.

Webcaster Program

Geared towards semi-professional station operators or those who wish to broadcast video, the Webcaster program is optimized for for medium to large listener bases. Like the Hobbyist program, both ShoutCast and Icecast streaming server options are available and pricing starts at: $5.95/month (icecast/liquidsoap, 96Kbps), $6.95/month (shoutcast/liquidsoap, 96Kbps) for unlimited (999) listeners and unlimited mount points.

CentovaCast Features

  • Easy web-based stream configuration
  • AutoDJ support with powerful playlist scheduler
  • Drag-and-drop AJAX media library – demo
  • Comprehensive statistics and royalty reports – demo
  • Automatic stream monitoring/restarting
  • Feature-rich, automatic station home pages – demo
  • Much, much more — take the tour!

ShoutCast versus Icecast

As far as listening quality and performance are concerned, there isn’t much difference between the two. All modern html5 and flash players support each equally and both offer the mount point feature. However, ShoutCast offers more specialized features like ShoutCast CDN, integrated popularization tools and station management on the popular shoutcast.com website. Whereas Icecast is more compatible and stable with more seamless handover between Live and AutoDJ source clients.

Upgrade/Downgrade Options

Current customers cannot upgrade to the new CentovaCast Cluster, however our support team will work with you in upgrading your current package. Simply contact support from the customer area.

It is possible to upgrade or downgrade Hobbyist and Webcaster packages within minutes. Simply login to the customer area, navigate to your service and select the Upgrade/Downgrade option.

Whats Next?

The development continues… Next will be integration of the CentovaCast Cluster in our Global Relay Network which will add to broadcast quality and worldwide saturation and then there will be the integration into the SoniXFM.com popularization platform which will make stations available on (among others) the Smart-TV’s, Google Play, iTunes and Amazon and much more. Watch for the announcements.

SoniXCast & CentovaCast Partner Up

We are happy to announce that SoniXCast is now offering Globally Licensed CentovaCast stream hosting packages!

Click here for ShoutCast Packages and Pricing

Click here for Icecast Packages and Pricing

Why CentovaCast?

CentovaCast is the preferred radio automation control panel by Hobbyists and Webcasters worldwide. It’s mature, stable and well known by Web Radio Producers. And, more importantly, it was requested over and over by our customers. CentovaCast offers features that are not yet available on the BoomBox platform and integrates seamlessly with SoniXCast’s Global Relay Network and SoniXFM™ Aggregation Service. Read more about CentovaCast here. Check out the Demo here. Take the guided Tour here.

What about BoomBox?

Freed of trying to provide legacy support, BoomBox will continue to be developed more towards Professional and Terrestrial Radio Stations which makes up the majority of our customer base and who demand more cutting edge technologies. This change in direction takes BoomBox out of direct competition with CentovaCast as they now address two fundamentally different vertical markets.

Can I switch from BoomBox to CentovaCast?

Unfortunately No. The BoomBox and CentovaCast systems are incompatible and pricing is structured differently. The only way to ‘change over‘ is to cancel your BoomBox service and setup a new CentovaCast service.

What about Licensing?

Like BoomBox, all streaming services are licensed for worldwide broadcast with same restrictions, guidelines and recommendations with the difference that CentovaCast streaming packages do not receive an official Station ID (CSNX-XXXX) and are instead licensed under our umbrella license agreement with SOCAN. Read more about SoniXCast Global Licensing here.

Hosting Infrastructure

CentovaCast services are maintained in our AnyCastIP™ global network with over 50 geographically dispersed relay nodes and hosted on our cutting edge failover virtual server infrastructure technology which offers unmatched uptime and availability.

What about Resellers?

Unlike BoomBox, SoniXCast offers multi-tiered reseller and affiliate programs for CentovaCast services. At the time of writing, price structuring was still being developed, but those interested are encouraged to contact support@sonixcast.com and ask about the program. The release of the Reseller program will be announced separately.

What about Bundling?

Yes. SoniXCast will offer CentovaCast and CPanel Web Hosting bundled packages. At the time of writing, the team was still working on price structures and once finished, the release of bundled packages will be announced separately.

Amazon Prime Goes Live

We are happy to announce that SoniXCast Stations are now on Amazon Prime!

Today we received notification that Amazon Prime Music is now listing SoniXCast Stations bringing SoniXCast Radio Content to over 7 million new subscribers.

…But there were issues…

Amazon developers never could tell us exactly how much network traffic would be generated and when they turned up the service it caused some network slowdown and in some cases services went offline from the load.

Our smallest network (SoniXCast Canada) which provides streaming services to small internet radio stations and hobbyists was impacted the most. But some of our professional broadcast networks in Brazil and Australia suffered some network slowdown as well.

This was all due to a burst in indexing of SoniXCast Radio Stations by the Amazon Servers. Network traffic has normalized now and we have tweaked our networks so that going forward we won’t experience such a slow down.

Is there more to come?

Yes. We’ve acquired four more professional broadcast networks and are still working on partnership agreements with Verizon, GM and AT&T. However, the lessons learned with Apple and Amazon has taught us to expect much higher traffic loads than estimated and we’ve quadrupled our expectations for future integrations and we will keep tweaking these numbers until we get it right.

New Panic Button Feature in BoomBox

We are happy to announce the new Panic Button Feature in BoomBox 3.1!

The panic button (heartbeat icon, upper right menu of the boombox control panel) feature executes repair routines that will fix issues most commonly reported by producers. Here is a list of repair routines:

  • Repairs directory permissions
  • Synchronizes Passwords (Services, FTP and Account)
  • Rotates Service Logs
  • Cleans Temporary Directories
  • Re-Writes Service Configuration Files
  • Restarts Services (Server, AutoDJ)

Important: While the panic button feature will not repair all issues, it does allow producers to help themselves quickly without having to wait on the support team and is recommended to try first before submitting a support request.

Read the BoomBox Documentation for more information.

Interim Update Playlist & DJ Manager

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We are happy to announce the release of BoomBox Playlist & DJ Manager version 3.1sc. This interim release addresses customer reported issues and finalizes the user interface conversion for the upcoming release of BoomBox Liquidsoap.

Patches in this version

  • The inability for some browsers to save playlist settings or apply folder changes.
  • Upgraded UI components (which partially caused playlist saving issues)
  • Changes made to Playlists or DJ’s would not immediately be affected in the AutoDJ service.
  • AutoDJ service would randomly crash for no reason.

What’s New?

  • Complete rewrite of the user interface replacing deprecated components (dropdowns, checkboxes…) with Bootstrap 4 standardized components.
  • More management functionality added to the Playlist and DJ Manager overview tables.
  • Elimination of browser specific code bettering Mobile Device compatibility.
  • Added more Recurrence scenarios for added programming flexibility.
  • Larger Icons for better readability.
  • Updated documentation and usage examples.

Overview Pages

The Playlist & DJ Manager Overview pages have been completely rewritten now using Bootstrap 4 standardized components and larger icons for better readability and mobile device compatibility. Producers will appreciate the added management capabilities like being able to adjust Priority, Recurrence, Shuffle and Repeat settings directly from the overview page.

Editor Pages

Like the Overview pages, The Editor pages have been completely rewritten for speed, and compatibility. Not much was changed in the layout, however new Date and Time Pickers were implemented to facilitate ease of use as well as larger buttons and icons to aid readability.

BoomBox AutoDJ Update

The next phase for the changeover from the old ShoutCast AutoDJ to Liquidsoap has been released. Customers are encouraged to check and/or adjust their DJ and Playlist priority settings.

What’s Changed?

Liquidsoap uses a concept called clocks and in order to achieve a seamless changeover, we needed to adjust some database settings. Primarily the priority setting which works fundamentally different in Liquidsoap. A translator has been built which converts settings, but some DJ and Playlists may not fully translate. Therefore customers are encouraged to chack their priority settings and make adjustments as necessary.

How many more conversion phases are planned?

Currently just 2 more. All but two systems have been converted over to CentOS 7 which is required for Liquidsoap and are planned to be completed within the next two weeks. DJ and Playlist settings are already being saved simultaneously for the old ShoutCast transcoder and Liquidsoap. However, more behind the scenes testing and conversion is required before a final release.

Global Relay Updates

Some of you may have had issues with your relay url stopping after a few seconds. This issue has now been repaired for all SoniXCast customers. We apologize for the inconvenience.

What Happened?

Through our partnerships with Roku and iTunes, we were able to negotiate priority listings for SoniXCast Radio Stations. As a result listener and metadata query traffic went way up.

The immense amount of additional traffic quickly overloaded the set limit of 2 million connections per server, so we had to raised it to 8 million connections per server.

In addition, the intrusion detection system was seeing the higher than normal traffic as malicious and as a result began rotating ip-addresses. We’ve adjusted those limits as well.

As good measure we also updated the limits within the AnyCastIP network to ensure that there is enough bandwidth available for future growth and will be adding extra relay nodes in more locations.

Which Url should I use? Relay vs Redirect vs Main

With the recent server ip-address changes, many customers have found out the hard way that 3rd party aggregators like TuneIn and others are just not aggressive enough when it comes to maintaining their domain name services (DNS). Serious aggregators such as iTunes, Roku and Sony have more robust network operations and correctly update when we do which is why customers using those platforms don’t have as many issues.

So, why change the IP-Address anyways?

Our network is hostname centric for reasons that will become clear as you read on. Those who been with us longer remember a time when we were being attacked on an almost daily basis causing service interruptions. Since then we’ve locked things down quite a bit and part of that action was to implement ‘Floating IP‘ and ‘AnyCast DNS‘ technology.

A Floating IP is an IP address that can be instantly moved from one System to another in the same datacenter. Part of a highly available infrastructure is being able to immediately point an IP address to redundant systems.

Anycast DNS is a network addressing and routing methodology, in which datagrams from a single sender are routed to the topologically nearest node in a group of potential receivers.

Our AnyCastIP technology implements a hybrid version of both technologies where an ip-address pool is predefined with DNS hostnames that are rotated at random intervals or when malicious activity is detected which are assigned to multiple redundant systems.

Hackers looking for new victims routinely scan whole ip networks looking for vulnerable systems. Streaming technology (regardless of vendor) requires the use of open network ports in order to communicate which introduces HUGE security holes. Our Intrusion Detection Technology watches for malicious connections and if something fishy is suspected, changes the ip-address to ward off any possible attacks.

This, of course, plays havoc with those still routed in the concepts of ‘static‘ ip-addresses as each hostname must be manually updated each and every time one or the other changes in order to achieve proper functionality. Which is why customers should NEVER use the IP-Address! Ever!

Enough Geek Speak! Which Url should I use?

We offer 3 separate Urls in order to cover the widest field of application. On the BoomBox Dashboard page, customers will see 3 ‘thumbs up’ icons colored according to application in the ‘My Station‘ section:

Relay Url (Green – Website and Players):

The relay url is what customers should put in 3rd party players, on their website and generally share with listeners. It is the most compatible, the most reliable and the url never changes as long as the account is active.

The Relay Url is funneled through a highly customized Icecast stream server cluster hosted on 24 geographically dispersed network nodes) that normalizes and buffers the stream for fastest possible startup and rock solid, high quality, playback. And since Icecast (more so by far than ShoutCast) works with every known player out there, it is compatible with just about anything including computers, tablets, set-top boxes and cellphones.

Redirect Url (Blue – 3rd party Software and Aggregators)

Aggregation Services (i.e. TuneIn), Broadcasting software (i.e. SAM Broadcaster) and 3rd party tools (i.e. RadioToolBox) need to query ShoutCast’s proprietary ICY protocol in order to function correctly. The redirect url merely forwards port requests directly from our worldwide nodes to the main url, but more importantly the url never changes as long as the account is active.

Main Url (Red – Backup only)

Those having difficulties broadcasting live using 3rd party broadcasting software can use the main url as a fallback, but be advised that the url can change at any time.

BoomBox Finder Updated to 2.28

We are happy to announce the update of BoomBox 3.1 Finder File Manager Application to version 2.28. This release resolves customer reported issues and general security concerns:

  • Hardening of underlying security system which jails users to their home directory.
  • Separation of log and backup folders.
  • Expanded the max upload limit to 2 gigabytes.
  • Repaired the archive extraction routines.
  • Implementation of the Flysystem file system to facilitate the use of dynamic FTP ports and 3rd party cloud service providers like Google Drive and AWS (coming soon).
  • Repaired global music library (GML) access for all users.
  • Expanded browser support to include Contana (IE) and Opera.
  • Expanded support for mobile devices.

Re-Introduction of FTP

FTP was globally disabled a few months ago as some producer data was deleted by the malicious acts of hackers. Before re-enabling FTP we had to come up with a concept to protect users. We built a security layer into our firewall which detects and reports malicious FTP activity (like trying to delete too many files at once). Those who wish to use FTP clients may do so again and will find access information on the BoomBox Dashboard page.

Note: Another feature we developed for FTP (as it is not natively supported) is dynamic port allocation. SoniXCast FTP does not listen on the standard ports for security reasons, but will also change the listening ports at random intervals as an added security feature against hackers. It is therefore important that those who use 3rd party FTP clients check the BoomBox Dashboard for the current FTP port before trying to connect.

Implementation of Flysystem

Flysystem is a PHP agnostic file system library which enables the transparent management of diverse file systems across the network. Besides simplifying the use of the Finder application and internal volume management, Flysystem also supports the integration of third party cloud service providers like Dropbox, Google Drive and Amazon S3. BoomBox is currently being expanded to support this feature.